I always want to see the Sabres in the playoffs. The NHL playoffs are one of, if not the most exciting tournaments in all of sports. The Sabres making the playoffs makes it more exciting for us fans, and it validates the season as something of a success.
But is it really the reward the Sabres deserve when the season is a sandwich of high performance on the ends with several slices of mediocrity and god awful playing in between? Since the All-Star break, the Sabres have been playing at a level of quality that we expected all season, making the games and this season bearable. However we are still a very long shot from the playoffs.
Right now, we are seeing the Sabres play a very sound game. Our offense looks better, the defense is stout and Ryan Miller is out of this world good. They have also added a potential number one center for the future at deadline, which I am pretty sure everyone has heard about by now. The Sabres are beating good teams and taking many of the games we lose to overtime. Even, when we sit several places out of a playoff spot, we are only a few games away from eighth. The playoffs are improbable but not impossible. It feels good.
But this, this is not what a playoff team does. A playoff team has a well rounded season, they do not dip well below .500, they do not find themselves in do or die games for all of February. I do not think rewarding this bad behavior of horrible play will help the Sabres win in the future, so there is hesitation on my part to think that the Sabres should occupy the 7th or 8th seed in the East. I want them there, but why should they be there? In all seriousness, a team that has been this disappointing probably doesn’t deserve the revenue brought forth by the playoffs.
So, lets get down to the brass tax, this team’s actual chances of finding a birth in the playoffs. Thanks to the wonderful website Sportsclubstats we can see that the Sabres currently have an under 10% chance of making the playoffs. So, even with the nice string of wins and points that have been put together, the Sabres are still a long shot. Everyday, our chances change, due to the games that have been played that day, showing that our shot at playoffs is controlled as much by the Sabres as it is by other teams. Unless the Sabres go 14-2-2 or better in their last 18 games, we will need help from other teams failing miserably (like the Leafs) to make that final push. With the way the Sabres have been playing, they have a legitimate argument for finishing in the top 8. Right now, Miller is playing at a Golden God level, and it will most certainly be an interesting month of hockey. The Sabres chances, varying by record look like so…
There are plenty of ways to make the playoffs, and the way the Sabres have been playing, make a lot of them feasible. But frankly, I am tired of the last minute dash for a spot. It was fun last year, but I want a marathon, not a sprint. I hope we can do it, but with very little on our side and such poor performance throughout the year, this may be a season that ends after 82.